It is unclear whether pregnancy has any influence on chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between pregnancy and parturition with HCV viremia levels and the natural resolution of HCV RNA. Twenty-two pregnant patients and 120 nonpregnant control female patients, both positive for anti-HCV and HCV RNA, were studied. The HCV core protein levels were quantified by enzyme immunoassay, and HCV RNA was detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Of the pregnant group, two females whose HCV RNA was negative continuously for more than 6 months lost HCV RNA permanently after parturition, and one female whose level of HCV core protein was intermittently under the limit of detection level lost HCV RNA intermittently. In the control group, only one female lost HCV RNA persistently, and one lost HCV RNA intermittently after she developed liver cirrhosis. At 3 months after parturition, the HCV core protein level was <15 fmol/L in all patients who lost HCV RNA, while the HCV core protein level was >/=15 fmol/L in 81.3% of the patients who persistently had HCV RNA (P = 0.03). Significantly more pregnant patients lost HCV RNA than did nonpregnant controls. These findings suggest that pregnancy and parturition appear to influence the clinical course of HCV infection.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.